ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Staring Down a Precipice

Lima ignored the urgent need to address climate change.

They came, they talked, and they almost failed. That seems to be the trajectory of most of the conferences on climate change held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The latest, the 20th Conference of Parties (CoP 20) at Lima, Peru, was not very different. Over a thousand delegates from 190 countries talked, argued, bargained, negotiated and finally, after extending the meeting by a couple of days, came up with a patchwork Lima Call for Climate Action with which no one was completely satisfied. This document is expected to form the basis for negotiations leading up to the crucial Climate Summit in Paris in 2015 when nations are expected to arrive at a legally binding international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol that lapsed in 2012.

Why, one wonders, is the same routine repeated when in 2014 the fact that human intervention is responsible for global warming and climate change has been convincingly established? Fortunately, in Lima no one wasted time arguing about the science of climate change. Yet they continued to debate about who should shoulder the principal responsibility for curbing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and how adaptation measures could be financed. When the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated and agreed upon in 1997, few disputed that the older industrialised nations had to bear the primary responsibility. The world was cleaved into two halves – developed and developing. The former had to curb emissions while the latter were to be helped to adopt cleaner technologies and adapt to climate change.

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